Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter.
Credits: REUTERS/ADAM SCOTTI
HALIFAX — The premiers of Alberta and Quebec had a tete-a-tete Thursday night and came out of it smiling and with an agreement to meet again soon to discuss energy opportunities.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and Alberta Premier Alison Redford emerged from their meeting and gave an impromptu news conference in a hotel lobby before rushing off to have dinner with the other premiers.
“We have discussed the possibility of eventually receiving Alberta oil,” Marois said in French. “But before we proceed any further we have to set up a working group that will allow us to share perspectives.”
Redford relished the chance to build on Quebec and Alberta's strong relationship and forge “an economic relationship for energy.”
“The opportunity to exchange information is very important,” said Redford, who spoke in French first, and then, showing deference to Marois, asked if the Quebec premier would mind if she answered a
reporter's question in English.
“This was our first opportunity to meet in person,” Redford said of Marois, who was just elected in September. “We had a very good discussion.”
Alberta is looking to forge a deal to create a market for its oilsands bitumen and Quebec is looking to create more employment in its petrochemical industry that could profit from getting cheaper Alberta
oil instead of importing it.
Despite the optimistic tone and the smiles, both premiers were careful to avoid using the word “pipeline.”
First, they need to hash a few things out.
“Then, we can have an informed conversation about the possibility of future energy projects that would impact both Alberta and Quebec,” Redford said. “We have acknowledged that there might be opportunity. We are not concluding what those will be.”
Other provinces are looking on with interest. P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz said he and New Brunswick Premier David Alward have been calling for an oil pipeline to bring Alberta oil to refineries in Atlantic Canada.
“He's got Saint John with an oil refinery,” said Ghiz. “I think that's a great idea. I think that will create jobs. If we're producing this oil to begin with, we should be using it in our own country if at all
Asked if he had a message for Marois, Ghiz said: “Let's have discussions and, if we can find a way for it to be beneficial for Quebec too, all the better.”